Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inspiration: Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette
She passed through the palace of Versailles with scented gloves, gowns as wide as twelve feet, and a tower of blonde curls atop her head, leaving a cloud of perfume in her wake.  Over two hundred years later, the name of French queen Marie Antoinette is still synonymous with luxury, indulgence, and a certain je ne sais quoi that continues to captivate the populace.  How did La Reine keep a step ahead of beauty trends in her day, and what products might she use in 2011?  Applied Glamour explores...

 Delightful Fragrances
In spite of the grandeur, 18th century Versailles was not a pleasant-smelling place.  Put lightly, there were hardly any restrooms for the hundreds of peasants and aristocrats who visited the palace daily.  Standard operating procedure was to sneak behind a curtain and hope for the best, regardless of your class or station.  Can you imagine?!

It's no surprise, then, that Marie Antoinette surrounded herself with fresh flowers and fragrant herbs and oils.  More than a luxury item, fragrances were a necessity for daily living in Versailles.  Marie was partial to orange blossom, rose, violet, lemon, and lavender scents.  She also loved to take baths, which was unusual in her time.  She even had a special bath mat filled with almonds, pine nuts, linseed, marshmallow root, and lilies. Finally, she always slept in gloves lined with wax, almond oil, and rose water to keep her hands silky and soft.  How glamorous!

A little Versailles glamour can be yours with these gorgeous perfume bottles.  Betsey Johnson's signature eau de parfum is housed in one of the most beautiful bottles I've ever seen and has notes of citrus fruit, black currant, pear, freesia, apple, lily of the valley, sandalwood, amber, and praline.  French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier's Classique eau de parfum is described as "sensual and sophisticated" with notes of vanilla orchid, rum essence, bourbon vanilla, rose essence, amber, tonka bean, sandalwood, and daffodil.

For a lovely soak, fill your bathtub with Philosophy's Vanilla Birthday Cake three in one shampoo, shower gel, and bubble bath.  (Side note: Marie never actually said "Let them eat cake," but she was fond of the confection!)  To moisturize your skin just like the Queen would, try L'Occitane's Peony Beauty Milk infused with shea butter, grape seed oil, and an exclusive peony extract imported from France.  For extra indulgence, sleep in these gloves lined with moisturizing gel from True Blue Spa.

The Regal Look
Before applying any cosmetics, Marie Antoinette would first cleanse her skin with Eau Cosmetique de Pigeon (if you reeeally want to know how it's made, ask!) , then apply Eau des Charmes as an astringent derived from grapevines (a precursor to grape seed oil?).  Finally she would use Eau d'Ange to gently whiten her complexion.  Today, I'll wager Marie would choose skincare products from luxury French brand Clarins.  The products are botanical based and the company is motivated by a love of nature and the environment, something the Queen would undoubtedly appreciate.  I also imagine she'd be into foundation from Givenchy, and maybe even tinted moisturizer.       

After whitening her skin, Marie would use scented powder on her face, lightly line her eyes with kohl, and dust rouge on her cheeks.  Scented pomade sticks were used as lip color, to tame eyebrows, and darken her eyelashes.  The beauty industry has come a long way since 1783, but Guerlain still used Marie as inspiration for their incredible Meteorites powder.  It's lightly lavender scented and the container is modeled after one of her own jewel boxes!  Of course today she would use DiorShow mascara for her eyelashes, and a gorgeous pink powder blush from Chanel.  Marie would probably add extra radiance to her complexion with YSL's Touche Eclat, and finish with Guerlain Kiss Kiss pink lipstick.  All French luxury brands, naturellement!

That Famous Hair
Marie Antoinette's legendary hair could easily be the subject of an entire blog post (this one is long enough!).  More than a fashion statement, her hair was used to impart current events and even political messages.  There's a reason she wore a miniature ship on her head and tiny American flags in her pouf!  The responsible party for these creations was Leonard, her very own hairstylist who was always at hand.  Leonard supposedly even used a mechanical pouf so the height of Marie's hair could be raised and lowered as needed to pass through carriages and doorways!  

Today the Glory of Big Hair is achieved with a good teasing comb and L'Oreal's Elnett hairspray.  It's a staple at every fashion show and red carpet event, but has only recently been available stateside; people used to smuggle in this cult favorite!  I think Marie would also like the gold package, don't you?          


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